Like Alcoholics

Huddled in the corner of the sofa, shades down, nestled under a blanket from the bed that I grew up in, a library book is pulling me into its story. The smell pours out of the pages: tomatoes simmering on Linda's stove as she stirs in the basil leaves that she cut from her garden a few hours ago, while Roger watches her taste it as he peeks in her window, planning to murder her. The phone ringing makes me jump. It's my phone, not hers.

I catch my breath, and get my mind to return to the room that I'm in before I say, "Hello?"

"I missed you tonight while I watched a movie."

I kind of wish he was here to protect me from Roger. I encourage him to talk. "What did you watch?"

"Something about an alcoholic couple. At the end, the husband gave up, and went to rehab to keep his wife."

If I can get him to talk, maybe I'll feel safer from Roger. "Why didn't he go before then?"

Silence. Then, "How do I know? What are you asking me for? Do you think I wrote it? What kind of question is that?"

"I just thought that he might have wanted to leave to start a new life, and leave their secrets behind." Now I'm getting his movie and my book mixed up.

"People don't always do things for themselves, you know. People aren't always selfish like that. People need to have someone else to be accountable to. Sometimes you need to rely on others to keep on track. Sometimes you need others to remind you that you're worth something. But you wouldn't know about that. You're an independent woman."

"Yeah. Well. No. I just thought -- I don't know." Pause.

He breaks the silence. "Do you love me?"

"Yes!" How can I show him any more clearly?

"Would you leave me if I was an alcoholic?"

"No." What? I don't know. That's a ridiculous question. If he was an alcoholic, then how would he be different? I have no idea.

His pleading grips my heart as he says, "Then act like it, hold my hand, visit me. You used to be here all the time. You don't come by any more. I was going to make you a big salad tonight."

"I invited you to be here tonight so we could enjoy each others' company." I wish I hadn't gotten so far in my book.

"I do so much for you that I don't want to do. I'm tired of it. I'm just going to do what I want to do from now on, just like you."

With sincerity, I respond, "I wish you would!"

"But that's where you're wrong! Love is sacrifice. Love and devotion means doing things for each other that you don't enjoy. It means reaching out beyond yourself, stretching until it hurts, and then you get past the pain because you've put someone else first."

I try to sort this out. "You mean, love has to hurt? So, what I do for you doesn't count because I enjoy it?"

"Yeah. Why should it count if you're just doing it for yourself? That's not selfless love. That's selfish love, and no one can live on that. That just eats up all the energy in the world, and starves everyone. You have to feed others, find ways to make them happy, rather than eating up all the best that there is. If you just do what you enjoy, then the world will starve, and then where will you be? You don't make sense. You've got to think about others."

He has a point. If I'm always busy feeding myself, so to speak, then how can I ever feed others? If I'm always doing what I want to do, then I'm abandoning others instead of building our relationships. If I'm only doing what I want to do for him, then what I do has nothing to do with what he wants. I need to be more giving. I need to get my focus off of myself, and be more generous. I need to trust that I can step off the cliff of safety, and extend myself to others, even when I think I don't have anything left to give. If I think I'm at the edge of a cliff, then I need to step out with faith that I can go further to serve others. That's what faith and generosity are all about.

He breaks into my thoughts, "I'll be there in a few minutes." 

It's late, but I must extend myself to embrace him and find out where his head is at. He wants me to love him until it hurts. But I am hurting already. If I push myself harder, maybe the pain with go away.

This is a #SaturdayScenes from near the end of my #RiverNovel .

Everyone who "Likes" and makes suggestions motivates me to continue exploring this story. Some of the most effective comments ask for more detail about a moment, event or character.

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Photo credits:
Ukraine dnepr at krementchug, by Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported. 
Kissing Crane Leg Knife, by James Case Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.
Modified by Grace Buchanan.

#RiverCuts for #RiverNovel by Grace Buchanan.

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